Gregg “Marcel” Dixon is a candidate for Congress in South Carolina’s 6th District, currently represented by James Clyburn. Dixon is mounting a primary challenge in which early voting is already underway.
We interviewed Marcel about his background and platform, as well Clyburn’s record of failure and corruption. The beginning portion of our interview is transcribed in part below. To hear the entire conversation, listen to the podcast underneath the text.
Keaton Weiss: I just want to jump right in and talk a little bit about James Clyburn’s district. Because I know James Clyburn as a power broker inside the Democratic party - a kingmaker of sorts who revived Joe Biden’s campaign, pretty much from the dead, in the 2020 primaries. But I had not known until very recently the horrible shape that his home district is in. South Carolina’s sixth is the sixth poorest district in the country, and that statistic is really just the tip of the iceberg. In terms of child poverty, education, healthcare access, this district just kind of ranks miserably all across the board - so can you speak to the state of your district and Clyburn’s failures as a rep?
Marcel Dixon: Well I’m not surprised you wouldn’t know his district was in such bad shape because he’s never here. Outside of playing golf he’s never really spending time going around his district or speaking to people, so it’s easy to forget that he’s responsible for a district in South Carolina.
As you already mentioned, his district is the sixth poorest by net worth in the United States of America. For children, it’s the third poorest. His district has the worst water quality in the nation, some of the highest levels of toxicity. Highest eviction rate, some of the worst health outcomes for any district in the United States of America. In Richland County, where the capital city of Columbia is located, there is one community, majority black community - as his district is a majority black district - there have been so many amputations of the black residents there. Their toes and fingers, legs and arms being chopped off, that a whole exposé had to be written about it.
And they discovered that these people had such poor health outcomes because they live in food deserts - which means you go for 10 miles or more and not be able to have access to a grocery store - that exist all throughout his district. There’s also healthcare deserts - where you can go 10 miles or more and not be able to pass a hospital or doctor’s office - that exist all throughout his district. So for preventable reasons, these people are getting their limbs chopped off, and once your limb is chopped off [you‘re] usually only given three years further to live because of lack of mobility and poor circulation.
There’s a town in his district, Denmark South Carolina. It’s a small town of no more than three to four thousand people, but it has two HBCU’s: Voorhees College and Denmark Tech. They haven’t had clean water in over 10 years. [An] unapproved, untested chemical was being put in their water supply. And you’d think Clyburn would be shouting about this from the rooftop. He has not. Bernie Sanders actually brought a pallet of clean drinking water for the residents there. Now they’re telling people the water is fine. They said that in Flint, Michigan too and we saw how that went. So people there don’t believe it at all.
Russell Dobular: So why does he keep getting returned to Congress? Why do people keep voting for him?
Marcel: People haven’t had any options, to be honest with you. It’s almost like you have grits for breakfast or grits for breakfast, you’re going to eat grits. He’s really been the only option since he’s been in office. He’s had a few primaries here and there, but none have really been a legitimate threat to him. That’s on record. And really, he’s gone as long as entire decades without being primaried. And the of the truth of the matter is, most Americans of any racial ethnic demographic, over half of their demographic is not voting. So it’s not that most people are voting for Clyburn, it’s that among the segment of the population that does vote, he gets the majority of those votes.
And it really does come from his image as an older Black southern man. People look at him and they think that because of him being black, him having to live through Jim Crow, redlining, and all the other horrors through which Black American descendants of American slaves have survived, people imagine he has our best interests at heart. Also, the truth of the matter is a lot of people do not do their due diligence and do their research. I never bothered to research his record until I did. And once I did, that’s when I said this cannot continue.
People don’t realize how neglectful he’s been towards us. People think that he’s up there trying, and people make excuses for him. When you bring up how bad our district is, people want to blame the Republicans.
That’s not flying with me. Black Americans vote 90 to 95 [percent] for the Democrats. Without Black Americans there will be no Democratic Party. So when i want results for my people, i’m not going to look at the Republicans. They’re not getting most of our votes, the Democrats are.
Also, people want to give to him both sides of argument. They want to say, “look at the good things he’s done” - which is very little - and they want to give him credit for the good, and at the same time don’t want him to take responsibility for the bad. That’s not how this works. You don’t get to claim credit for the good and then absolve yourself of responsibility for the bad. So it’s been a lot of excuses made for him, it’s a lot of lack of knowledge about how bad his record. People think he’s trying to do good by us and he’s just being given a difficult time by Republicans. That is not the truth.
People are not familiar with his record. But because of me, they are now.
Photos: AP, MarcelforCongress.com